James Dean, although the lead-star of only three films, concreted himself as one of the cinema's golden age legends quite quickly in the 1950's - mainly through his unconventional approach to Hollywood's rules - this is, all before his premature death quite soon later.
Portrayed by Dane Dehaan, LIFE is a satirical chronicle of Dean's rise of an unknown to his Hollywood acting debut of success and fame. Yet, the film is not directly told as a documentary of his life - but via the lens of Robert Pattinson's character, Dennis Stock, a rookie photographer for a photo-agency with aspirations of becoming known.
Set in the 1950's, director Anton Corbijn's take on Dean's life is admirably applaudable as it takes us on an inside look of Dean's short lived fame and anti-fame. The sets, the cinematography, the music and the atmosphere all cipher the 50's pose, as smoking and larger-than-life LA are the standard.
First meeting at a party in 1955, Dennis (the photographer) approaches Dean; a young, sophisticated individual wearing a melo- polo, slicked hair with thick framed glasses and asks who he is. For Dehaan, the performance, both visually and in terms of acting is undeniably suited as he resonates Dean's moody and unique approach, showing him as a person, not merely an icon.
Forming sturdy relationships with Jack Warner (Ben Kingsley), of Warner Brothers Pictures, Dean's talent is soon spotted, and through several frustrations of the individual's motives, he told to 'play the part, follow the rules' and he would be made a star.
For Robert Pattinson, his take on iconic photographer Dennis Stock is equally as impressive as he enters the world of Hollywood from the other side of the carpet (and at bottom). Spotting Dean's talent early, Stock, in the two-hour running time attempts to get photographs of Dean before fame kicks in. Deadlines, pressure and awkwardness soon mount-up, and Pattinson expertly presents it onto screen.
Shot-by-shot, we capture each of Stock's photos of James Dean - but, rather than just a photo and what point it was taken - we are inclusively taken into a perspective of why it was taken, the setting and how they were so important - and now, in retrospective of our present - why so iconic.